Dion Dublin - Reunion with Paul Lambert at Aston Villa extra incentive for Norwich City
Norwich City players will definitely be fired up by the prospect of facing their former manager's new team at Villa Park, according to ex-Canary star Dion Dublin.
Rival bosses Paul Lambert and Chris Hughton have both played down Saturday's televised Premier League clash (12.45pm) as 'just another game' – but Dublin, who played for both Aston Villa and the Canaries, believes there will be a special edge in both camps.
If Hughton fields an unchanged side after City's stirring 1-0 win over Arsenal, it will include seven men who played under Lambert at Carrow Road.
Said Dublin: 'It will fire them up to be playing against Villa at Villa Park. It will fire them up to be playing against their old manager as well.
'They will want to perform how they were performing for him, to say 'Listen, this is how you set us out, this is how you got our attitudes right' and they will want to impress him, of course they will.
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'On the flip side, Paul Lambert will be saying 'Listen, I know this side backwards. If you don't perform to the best, this team will beat you'. So Lambert will have Villa on guard.
'If there is a weak link within the Villa team, Norwich will find it and they will use it and counteract their strengths. I think Paul Lambert will be really conscious that Norwich could get a good upset this Saturday.'
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Dublin, who spent six years at Villa and retired in 2008 after two seasons with Norwich, said he was not surprised when Lambert moved to Villa – 'if anybody was they were very na�ve' – but said the fans were wrong to expect instant miracles of the kind he performed at Carrow Road.
'It was never going to happen. You might win the first couple of games and that's it, you're a hero,' he said. 'But having played there for six years, I know the fans can get on a manager's back very, very quickly if they're not getting what they want. And Villa fans more than most.
'They haven't been good enough of late. They're 17th in the league, having an absolute nightmare at the moment. It isn't good enough for a club of Villa's size.
'I think Paul Lambert will turn it round, though. If any manager can, Paul Lambert can. At present, the Villa fans are being patient to a certain degree and will give Lambert enough time to turn it round.
'I think he'll do well. I don't think Villa will be anywhere near relegation.'
Dublin rates Villa favourites on Saturday but said City were certainly capable of getting their first away win of the season.
'It is a crunch game and a game that Villa fans will be expecting them to win,' he said. 'If Villa turn up and he gets his team flying I think they'll win the game at a canter. If they are just slightly below their best – and they have to be at their best to beat Norwich – I think Norwich will get a convincing win. I don't think there is anything in between.
'If they just drop their guard, Norwich are good enough to go away from home and beat Villa. It's going to be a convincing win either way.'
Lambert – whose acrimonious exit in May sparked an off-field wrangle that has yet to be resolved - can expect a mixed reception from the travelling City fans, according to Dublin.
'It's an interesting one. I think it will be mixed. But I do feel the majority will actually clap him and respect him for what he did for Norwich City,' he said.
'I think it will be great before the game. If Norwich lose, it will be rubbish after the game and they'll give him a hard time. But that's just the fans' prerogative. Before the game he'll get clapped by the Norwich fans, I'm pretty sure of that.'
The 43-year-old Dublin backs Hughton to prove a success with City, albeit in a very different style from his predecessor.
He said: 'The biggest accolade I can give Chris is he's such a nice gentleman.
'He's very courteous, he always has time for you and I think the people of Norwich are realising that's the kind of person he is – very different to Mr Lambert, a completely different character.
'But I think he can do exactly the same job, given the time, that Paul Lambert did, which was a completely and utterly different regime. But the success levels Lambert achieved at Norwich were exceptional.'
Dion Dublin was speaking to David Cuffley on behalf of Capital One, the credit card company and sponsors of the League Cup. Visit facebook.com/capitaloneuk